While America Slept. Monday, December 1, 2008

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
while america slept monday december 1 2008
Ok, girls and boys, we are entering the last lap of the year. Prepare for one more month of bad news – then it will be over. The year. A lot of bad news already happened before you had your wheaties: While America Slept is a daily round-up of the news that happened in other continents and time-zones. TTAC provides round-the-clock coverage of everything that has wheels. Or that has its wheels coming off. Buckle up and be safe. (If you don’t like WAS, read the last entry. You’ll find yourself delighted!)

It’s official: Nipponese share US distaste of new cars: Japan Automobile Dealers’ Association published their November domestic sales of new cars, trucks and buses. They (the sales) are ugly: Down 27.3 percent on the year, down for the fourth straight month, and nearly twice as down as in October (-13.1 percent.) According to Nikkei (sub) “auto sales will likely fall this year to the lowest volume in decades on the economic slump that has seen Japan enter a recession.” Expect more bad news “from those wonderful folks who brought you Pearl Harbor.” (Not my bad taste, Della Femina did it!) For instance: The closely watched Japanese golf club index just sunk to 1.77 million yen, down 33 percent from its 2.64 million yen peak in May 2007.

Nissan ready, set, fire! Maybe: In the flak trade, it’s called “softening the blow.” Nissan’s COO Toshiyuki Shiga said today to the Nikkei (sub) “that future sales will determine whether Nissan will need to cut more jobs.” Although Shiga-Sama said it’s too early to predict the company’s personnel strategy, we all know the likely outcome. See above. And there is more …

“I want my CVT:” Continuous variable transmissions (CVTs) are popular with the folks, they help improving fuel economy by 10 to 25 percent, and are planet-friendly. Suzuki will put them in all its minivehicles, the Nikkei (sub) says. Suzuki had used CVTs only in its Cervo and Wagon R, because they raise the price of the car by around $500. The CVTs should help Suzuki to clear tougher fuel economy standards that take effect in Japan in 2015. See, even Japan has a CAFÉ. (The latter is called a “kissa” in nihongo, but has nothing to do with kisses, nor cars.)

GM cash burn? Here’s the real Ding: Wonders never cease. GM is ready to pony up more money and increase its investment in their Chinese joint venture with SAIC, Gasgoo reports after having received the good word from SAIC Vice President and Shanghai GM General Manager Ding Lei. Ding also noted that “the reports on GM’s cash flow are neither accurate nor comprehensive.” Quick, send that to Washington before the boys arrive! If there’s no bailout, SAIC may pull out their wallet instead. According to Gasgoo, one of SAIC’s executives “admitted that it is quite reasonable and possible for the Shanghai automaker to acquire some GM’s OEM projects or joint venture assets in China.” Or maybe elsewhere.

Audi doubles Chinese capacity: Continuing its walk on water, Audi China announced that they will open a new plant in Northeast China in March, doubling their output capacity to 200K units. Their current factory in Changchun cranks out 100K units a year, and they already have sold over 100K so far, a rise of 19 percent, as Gasgoo has it. The new plant will build A4 and Q5 models.

GM and Ford go begging in Sweden: The Financial Times says Stephen Odell, Volvo’s chief executive, and Saab’s managing director Jan-Ake Jonsson separately asked money from Maud Olofsson, Sweden’s industry minister. Sweden is mulling the possibility of giving $248m to Saab and Volvo in direct aid or loan guarantees, maybe. “The discussion is open”, says Matts Carlsson, auto industry analyst at the Gothenburg Management Institute.

Hybrids and plug-ins are quiet. Too quiet: The blind can’t hear them. “Surprised bicyclists nearly fall off the saddle,” reports Automobilwoche. Praise the Lord for German ingenuity. Two suppliers already develop systems that will provide the necessary “wrrrrrrm.” With this invention, a small plug-in could “have the sound of a V8 or a turbo sports car,” the paper reports. Next: Fake gasoline smells, and it will be like the real thing.

German dealers see red: Two out of three car dealers in Germany will have red ink in their books this year, ZDK President Robert “Robbie” Rademacher said, and Autohaus brings the dire news. “Nobody’s making any money in the new car business,” Rademacher said. He sees a further reduction of 10 percent in sales for next year. 2.8m cars, that would be the lowest number for 20 years. Ford’s Bernhard Mattes agrees, he sees “3.1m at max” in Deutschland for 2009. Don’t they love cars anymore?

This is no joke: Your early morning WAS scribe will be on a plane from Beijing to the Fatherland tomorrow to conduct some necessary business. This has become unavoidable as TTAC’s payments don’t quite cover the very moderate Chinese expenses. Due to time constraints, the filing of WAS will most likely fall by the wayside. Or maybe it will turn into WAGO for a week: While America Got Up. In any case: Drastically less BS this week. Aren’t you glad?

Join the conversation
  • 50merc 50merc on Dec 01, 2008

    Hurry back, Bertel.

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Dec 01, 2008

    "Hybrids and plug-ins are quiet. Too quiet" I call urban legend. I have seen this story several times over the last couple of years. Modern cars of all types don't make much engine noise if they are not accelerating. Most of the noise they make is generated by their tires. I doubt that tire noise differs between ICE and electric of the same size.

  • FreedMike Good looking vehicle. Expensive, though...
  • FreedMike The world should rebel against this by buying nothing but the sedan version. (They won't, because crossover...)
  • Lou_BC " GMC Canyon sales during the second quarter of 2023 kept Big Red’s midsize pickup last in its segment when ranked by sales volume. The Toyota Tacoma continued to command the top spot, while also being the only model to be in the green with a 14 percent bump to 63,262 units year-over-year, representing nearly half of all segment deliveries. The  Chevy Colorado (see running  Chevy Colorado sales), the Canyon’s corporate cousin, placed second with a 12 percent dip to 19,909 units. The Nissan Frontier took third with a 17 percent slide to 17,213 units, followed by the Jeep Gladiator in fourth with a 34 percent drop to 13,751 units. The  Ford Ranger (see running  Ford Ranger sales) took fifth with a 22 percent decline to 12,618 units. The GMC Canyon (see running  GMC Canyon sales) finished out the short list with an 11 percent slip to 6,708 units"
  • 2ACL If you weren't throwing away your Mercedes after the warranty expired, this will fix that. This is an overly complex answer to the AMG question I don't think will endure the test of time.
  • Kwik_Shift Looks like what a redesigned Nissan Murano would be. I believe Murano is done.